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Each year, The Gathering brings together disruptors from around the globe to learn from, and celebrate, the leaders behind iconic brands like Marvel, Skittles, Beats by Dre, Yeti, and the Dallas Cowboys. For the first time ever, these unique and enlightening presentations can be heard any time and anywhere on this podcast. Cult Brand Secrets is an anthology of the greatest and most influential presentations The Gathering has to offer, featuring experts that transcend branding to build cult-like adoration of their work. Additionally, host Chris Kneeland uses his own experience in associating with these brand leaders to highlight key trends and help you identify the most worthwhile takeaways. Join our Premium Channel to hear full length presentations at cultbrandsecrets.com.
S1 E1: Spotify

S1 E1: Spotify

2022-03-0237:44

Spotify is a remarkable company and an amazing Cult brand. Birthed in 2008 as a viable alternative to music piracy, Spotify has always upheld the importance of properly compensating creators. In this episode, we hear Alex recount his personal journey and share how the Creative team at Spotify uses data to inform campaigns, Alex will share several examples of how marketing worked with the product, and the data, to create greater fan engagement. Learn more at CultBrandSecrets.com
S1 E2: Marvel

S1 E2: Marvel

2022-03-0343:35

Mindy is the Senior Vice President over Global Marketing Partnerships for Marvel Studios, which is owned by The Walt Disney Company. She’s a horse lovin’ southern gal, now living in the glam and glitz of Hollywood, and applying her formidable experience with entertainment properties and big brands to the different Marvel franchises. As you listen to Mindy speak, you’ll note two things in particular. First, Marvel isn’t about superheroes. They have transcended beyond their characters and are really about epic storytelling and the power of the human spirit. Those are two things we need better represented in more brands and categories. Secondly, Mindy references the need to “Interact instead of transact''. To build a cult brand, you need to transcend the typical business to consumer relationship. Learn more at CultBrandSecrets.com
S1 E3: Skittles

S1 E3: Skittles

2022-03-0942:31

Jane Hwang is the former Global Vice President over Fruit Confections at Mars, which includes Skittles. She has a manner that helped her organization be comfortable with being uncomfortable, which is perfect for such an offbeat brand. Skittles is the #1 globally selling non-chocolate candy. 200 million individual skittles are produced daily. Obviously when you’re that big so much of the brand’s success is based on manufacturing consistency and supply chain, and distribution within multiple countries. But Jane didn’t talk about any of that. Instead, she talks about consistent disruption in regards to consumer expectations, their storytelling, and the causes Skittles supports. She elaborates on the discipline to stick with something, like Taste the Rainbow has been a work in progress for nearly 30 years. With how transient the CMO position is, it seems like mediocre, or immature brands are reimagining their identity and value propositions every couple years. That’s the wrong way to do it. Learn more at CultBrandSecrets.com
S1 E4: Douglas Atkin

S1 E4: Douglas Atkin

2022-03-1045:01

You’re in for a treat because Douglas Atkin is the OG of cult branding. He literally wrote the book on the subject. Back in 2005 he published a book called The Culting of Brands and he was first the first person I know who compared the beliefs and behaviors of actual cults - the creepy kind - with enviable organizations, like fraternities, fast growing religions, and brands. Douglas’ work led him to interesting marketing roles within professional service firms and the social gathering site MeetUp, but his career went to a whole new level when he was hired in the early days of AirBNB and deployed his thinking on cult brands to that business and contributed to their meteoric rise. Learn more at CultBrandSecrets.com
S1 E5: YETI

S1 E5: YETI

2022-03-1643:38

In this talk, Bill will share a bit of his personal journey, where he spent some time at Under Armor, another fantastic Cult brand, and he’ll share three guiding principles that inform Yeti’s marketing mix. This is a great opportunity to experience Bill’s character and personality. He’s a rare individual in today’s marketing leadership landscape. Most of us pretend to have all the answers, all the time, to any question that is asked. But Bill doesn’t. He knows what he knows, and he knows what he doesn’t know, and his curiosity and enthusiasm for continued growth and learning is endearing, and hopefully it’s contagious, because the marketing industry would be a lot better off if there were more people like Bill in it. Learn more at CultBrandSecrets.com
S1 E6: The North Face

S1 E6: The North Face

2022-03-1745:58

Tom Herbst’s presentation at The Gathering 2019 ranks among one of my Top 10 all time favorites. I’d like you to listen to Tom speak, and ask yourself how much you believe in what he’s saying. You should use Tom’s remarks as a barometer of sorts to gauge your own passion and level of enthusiasm for cult branding. As a business, the North Face is wildly successful at manufacturing and selling products expertly designed to help people thrive in extremely cold weather. But as a brand, North Face was dangerously close to losing its way. As it got bigger, it was becoming less beloved. In pursuit of greater profits, they were losing touch with the people who made their company great - both the customers and the staff whose buy in is so critical. And that's when Tom came in to help save the day. Learn more at CultBrandSecrets.com
S1 E7: Lush

S1 E7: Lush

2022-03-2328:56

Brandi’s speech at The Gathering 2019 is why I’m so excited about this podcast series. Her presentation was incredible. In 30 minutes she articulated the essence of why Lush is such an incredible brand, and frankly I don’t know why more people don’t put Lush in the same category as Ben & Jerry’s or Patagonia or Swell water bottles when they talk about brands that masterfully adopt social justice platforms and almost behave more like charities than corporations. We should all take more time to learn about Lush, and then apply what we learn to our own businesses. As she’ll share, she’s been so loyal to Lush because Lush is a values first brand, and their values align with Brandi’s personal values. When your company is that overt about who you are and what you stand for, you will attract a different type of employee, people who are not only qualified to do the job, but are brand ambassadors who contribute in unique ways to your business’s success. Learn more at CultBrandSecrets.com
More than 125 million people in 120 countries have seen a Globetrotters game, and countless more have seen them on Scooby Doo, Gillagan’s Island, TV gameshows, Reality TV, Guinness Book of World Records competitions, and Youtube videos. For over 95 years they have been providing family fun as well as breaking down barriers and teaching their fans how to be better versions of ourselves. Brent gives us the opportunity to sort of belly up to the buffet of proven brand principles and instead of diving deep into 1-2 big takeaways, he knocks us over the head with nearly a dozen different tips and tricks and solid advice to create something as beloved as what the Globetrotters have become. Learn more at CultBrandSecrets.com
So many remarkable success stories start out as seemingly bad ideas. But that’s what makes their success so much more noteworthy. Building an NHL franchise in the dessert, in a market not known for being very family friendly, a market with no other professional sport team, was viewed by many as a big mistake. But Brian was the right guy to rise to the challenge. He’s a tremendous marketing mind, In fact, I’ll go so far as to say Brian Killingsworth is one of the top sports marketing experts in the world. Brian’s success is making it so that regardless of win or lose, all the fans had a truly memorable experience. Let’s listen as Brian share a host of strategies and tactics he’s deploying to earn the success the Golden Knights are enjoying. Learn more at CultBrandSecrets.com.
S1 E10: Porsche

S1 E10: Porsche

2022-03-3031:57

Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give Scott Baker, and Porsche - the company he represents - is that I wasn’t a car person before their brand evaluation, and now I’m a big car fan. Particularly Porsche. This is one of the most remarkable companies and brands and I don’t think they get nearly the accolades and admiration they deserve within the marketing industry. If you boil marketing down to it’s core essence, there are two things that matter most: First, ask yourself if your product is as remarkable as you think it is, or as remarkable as it needs to be. If not, spend your time, talent, and money making it better. Porsche makes truly remarkable automobiles. Secondly, are you creating and nurturing a tribe of enthusiasts about your product or service. Porsche, like Harley Davidson, is masterfully at providing desirable experiences for the novice, and they allow die hard fans to have incredible access and the ability to associate with the brand, and with other Porsche fans. It really doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. Let’s hear how Scott does those two things at Porsche. Learn more at CultBrandSecrets.com.
S1 E11: M&Ms

S1 E11: M&Ms

2022-04-0641:49

Nils shares a bit about the product features themselves, as well as how it aspires to be relevant within culture - TV shows, music, the new. I encourage you to listen to him and make notes on how something that was birthed in 1941 as a candy designed for WWII soldiers transformed into the most popular candy in the world. To hear more about how Nils manages the complexity of the running world’s biggest candy brand while never losing sight of the individuals , like myself, who love to eat them, check out Cult Brand Secrets Premium. By subscribing to our Premium Plan, you’ll gain access to full presentations by the most well-known brands in the world from The Gathering’s past events. Learn more at CultBrandSecrets.com.
S1 E12: Open Assembly

S1 E12: Open Assembly

2022-04-0747:25

While we usually feature cult brand leaders telling their tales of how their brand earned cult-like status, John Winsor is different. He’s an industry thought leader and a master of the cult-brand principle of co-creation. Most interesting, John is a pioneer, innovator and early adopter of crowdsourcing. We were thrilled to have John present at the 2020 Gathering because of his expertise helping brands become more successful by thinking differently about their talent management strategies. John reminds us that we will all be disrupted; personally and professionally. It’s unavoidable, so the only question is how well are we prepared for it? Learn more at CultBrandSecrets.com.
S2 E1: Saje

S2 E1: Saje

2022-04-1333:14

Janelle Shiplet titled her remarks, A Brand Best Experienced, and she lived up to that by giving away Sage essential oils to all the attendees, and started of her talk by having everyone rub on one of their Sage remedies and do some breath work.  Cult has an adage that says, Don’t just get customers to buy, get them to buy in.” That is exactly what Sage has mastered. They don’t just seek transactional relationships, they earnestly invite people to be part of their community. Sage has about 70 retail locations now, but most of their growth has happened in just the past few years. Janelle’s talk will be highly valuable to any business owner seeking to initiate and enable growth. Have a listen… Learn more at CultBrandSecrets.com
S2 E2: Tony Hawk

S2 E2: Tony Hawk

2022-04-1454:21

Cult Brand Secrets has researched brands like Harley Davidson, Apple, Nike, Starbucks and Lululemon to try and reverse engineer what they did to make them so iconic in their categories. But, thanks to The Gathering, we’ve been able to add other types of entities into our data set, such as cities or destinations and non-profits.  But we grew increasingly interested in people as well. Once we started researching iconic humans, like Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, and Gordon Ramsey, we stumbled upon a fascinating space of cult brand personalities. It was so intriguing to us that in 2019 we introduced a new category of recognition, and selected Tony Hawk as our inaugural honoree. It is impossible for me to think of a better first time recipient than Tony. His career and brand represent perfectly what we want people to understand about cult brand personalities - the mastery of a craft, the pursuit of passion over profit, the durability of staying relevant for decades, the ability to give back and contribute to a relevant cause, everything that Tony has done qualifies him for this recognition. Learn more at CultBrandSecrets.com
S2 E3: IBM

S2 E3: IBM

2022-04-2045:31

IBM is a remarkable company, having masterfully pivoted over it’s century-old life to remain highly relevant in the B2B space. In fact, they are sort of the poster child of reinvention, having started in the hardware space and now are thriving in the professional services space. But IBM wasn’t at the 2019 Gathering as an honoree. Rather, we invited Nancy to come and present because of their proprietary research around the customer experience and how they are helping brands apply AI to improve how strategy, creativity and technology all commingle in hyper efficient ways to boost customer engagement. Have a listen, and just as importantly, download the IBM Brand Belonging research that Nancy references and see how well, and how quickly, your company can leverage its findings. Learn more at CultBrandSecrets.com
S2 E4: A&W

S2 E4: A&W

2022-04-2143:20

Lots of businesses can fake it for a while while riding some cultural fad, but you need real substance to be around for over 100 years. And A&W began as a simple root beer stand in 1919 following the end of WWI. I remember after evaluating A&W for That Gathering I would talk about them with people in my network and their familiarity with it varied wildly. Some never ate there, others raved about their burgers, others talked about their famous root beer floats and frosted mugs, and yet others know them simply as the best root beer to buy in a 2-liter bottle at the grocery store. Sarah will get into that, but what I came to appreciate most about the brand - besides the fact that they invented the bacon cheeseburger - is that A&W was the first restaurant to franchise in the US, which means they were really smart about their growth. So if you are interested in growing your business, listen to some tips and tricks from Sarah as she shares some of A&W’s secret sauce that has helped them achieve a level of status and success that few brands will ever achieve.  Learn more at CultBrandSecrets.com
S2 E5: The LA Lakers

S2 E5: The LA Lakers

2022-04-2742:10

Tim Harris, the President of a multi-billion dollar brand, speaks to us about culture and shares the story of his mailroom guy. There is so much to be learned about how cult brand leaders emphasize culture and how they treat their people. The LA Lakers’ success teaches us the importance of catering to your current customers, as well as treating your people on staff. There are benefits to focusing more energy on those groups over prospects, but it is customers and staff who can evangelize your brand and bring other people into your fold.  While Tim is exceptional, he is representative of the caliber of humans who run some of the most beloved brands on the planet. Their organizations are loved for a reason, and it’s because of the people like Tim who call the shots. Learn more at CultBrandSecrets.com
S2 E6: Doritos

S2 E6: Doritos

2022-04-2841:12

Since the advent of TV advertising, marketers have been perfecting their storytelling - getting better and better at how they talk. But cult brands have also learned how to shut up and listen. They know they aren’t smarter than their customers, so they find clever ways to include the voice of their customer in their strategies and tactics. You’re in for a treat as Rachel shares the story behind their famous ‘anti-ad’, which went against the advice of so-called experts, as well as her own legal team, but resulted in Doritos literally branding a shape - they now own our mindshare for the triangle. She also gives a great case study on their Cool Ranch campaign, which was really the first time in 20 years that brand got so much love and attention. I think Rachel gives us a masterclass on modern day marketing, so let’s dive in and learn from one of our industry’s best. Learn more at CultBrandSecrets.com
S2 E7: 1-800-GOT JUNK

S2 E7: 1-800-GOT JUNK

2022-05-0449:56

Brian Scudamore’s enthusiasm for business, and for life, is contagious. He’s one of those guys that makes me smile just by being in his presence. Sure, he’s a super successful entrepreneur, but he’s also just a really good guy who is naturally curious, has a tremendous work ethic, and most importantly for today’s episode, he has mastered a philosophy about failure that is very refreshing.  In this presentation, Brian is going to share the origin story of 1-800 Got Junk, and that business is certainly a fascinating rags to riches story. But more than the company’s journey, I encourage you to pay attention to Brian’s entrepreneurial journey. He’s very candid, and has a lot to teach us about resilience, grit, optimism, and making tough choices. Learn more at CultBrandSecrets.com
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